I was first exposed to German gothic metal band Beyond The Black when they were the unexpected opening band when I caught the Bristol show on Saxon’s “Warriors Of The Road” UK tour back in November 2014.
At that point they had yet to release an album, and considering that the band had only played their first show a few months earlier were quite impressive.
Debut album “Songs Of Love And Death” was released on 13th February 2015. A decent slab of gothic / symphonic metal with an accessible edge, the record was well received, especially in Germany where the album reached number twelve in the charts, and contained some catchy and memorable tracks such as “Running From The Edge”, “Numb” and “In The Shadows”, plus a superior cover of Motörhead’s 1991 track “Love Me Forever”.
The group’s line-up comprises vocalist Jennifer Haben, guitarists Nils Lesser and Christopher Hummels, bassist Erwin Schmidt, drummer Tobias Derer and keyboardist Michael Hauser, but only Haben appears on the first album – with session musicians contributing the backing – as it was seemingly recorded before the band was put together.
Almost exactly twelve months later (on 12th February this year) the band’s second album “Lost In Forever” hit the shelves, this time performed, I think, entirely by the six band members. That said, and without wishing any disrespect to the group, some of the guitar solos in particular are so polished I do wonder if the record bears the hallmarks of session musicians again.
The record kicks off with the first single, title track “Lost In Forever”. Haben’s vocals are more polished and assured this time around, and she is ably supported by backing vocals from Hummels. The instrumental performances are uniformly high quality, and the songwriting is very impressive too.
For some the material may be a touch too accessible, particularly on a power ballad such as “Against The World”, which to my ears harkens back to the hair metal scene of the glorious late Eighties whilst also have a definite modern pop/rock feel. Simply, this is symphonic metal written unashamedly with an eye on success. That may make the whole thing calculated and less authentic to some listeners, but when the songs and sonics are this good I don’t find that to be a problem.
Standout tracks here include “Heaven In Hell”, “Written In Blood”, “Dies Irae”, “Shine And Shade”, “Halo Of The Dark”, “Lost In Forever” and the delicate acoustic closer “Love’s A Burden”. This isn’t a band trying to reinvent the wheel, but they do what they do very well indeed. Without doubt Jennifer Haben is the star of the show, but Beyond The Black are a band that seem capable of making it big in their chosen genre. I’ll watch their future development with interest…
1. Lost In Forever / 2. Beautiful Lies / 3. Written In Blood / 4. Against The World / 5. Beyond The Mirror / 6. Halo Of The Dark / 7. Dies Irae / 8. Forget My Name / 9. Burning In Flames / 10. Nevermore / 11. Shine And Shade / 12. Heaven In Hell / 13. Love’s A Burden